The United States and Canada need to emulate businesses pursuing a "single market" strategy for trade and security, a top Procter & Gamble executive says.
Friction over security and trade policy threatens the economic recovery and the competitiveness of both nations, said Melanie Healey, group president for North America at Procter & Gamble.
"Heightened security has led to a thickening border" since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Healey said Wednesday at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
"With 40,000 truckloads of P&G goods crossing the border every year, we're concerned about this," she said.
Two- to four-hour backups at the border cost P&G roughly 80,000 to 160,000 hours each year, Healey said. That equals about nine to 18 years of delay.
"It's critical that you who are responsible for policy and we who are responsible for growth solve this," Healey said in a speech on cross-border trade at the embassy.
After the North American Free Trade Agreement, P&G restructured its operations in the United States and Canada along "single market" lines. "We were able to reinvent our manufacturing footprint and operate as a single North American entity," she said.
Before NAFTA, P&G was organized along national lines, with separate product lines, manufacturing and marketing channels for Canada and the United States. Goods were produced and sold largely inside the borders of both countries.
That structure was replaced with two core groups that straddled the border, one focused on product categories and the other on market development, including logistics.
Manufacturing was consolidated by category, Healey said. For example, "Belleville (Ontario) is the only site for the manufacturing of Always feminine pads."
The reorganization put the $79 billion company on a better competitive footing worldwide, and the United States and Canada could do the same by better aligning policy, she said.
"The deep economic integration between our two countries is increasingly valuable," said Healey. "There's continued pressure to innovate and grow to compete around the world."
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